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PM: Reconsider jab denial policy

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Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine speaks at a press conference on the Omicron variant in December. Hong Menea

PM: Reconsider jab denial policy

Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Ministry of Health to examine the possibility of providing vaccinations to the more than 70,000 people who voluntarily came in to get their jabs and got turned away due to pre-existing health problems.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for a major infrastructure upgrade project on the 148km National Road 48 running from Preah Sihanouk to Koh Kong province on January 3, Hun Sen expressed sympathy for the 70,000 people who had encountered difficulties over health issues when they tried to get vaccinated.

“Now, please look into the cases of the 70,000 people who went to get their vaccines but medical workers denied it to them. Please review this matter.

“[Health ministry spokeswoman] Or Vandine, please look into this matter comprehensively and see if any of them can come back and get vaccinated.

“Sometimes, there are shortcomings among our medical workers. Therefore, I ask that the ministry look into these cases and get as many of them vaccinated as possible against Covid-19 so that we don’t take any steps backwards.

“At the beginning, some people within the Ministry of National Defence were also denied vaccinations, but later on [minister Tea Banh] permitted vaccinations for them and no one encountered any problems,” Hun Sen said.

The prime minister also called on the public to get their booster shots as soon as they are eligible following their second doses due to the global spread of the Omicron variant.

He reminded the public that vaccines are not silver bullets, but vaccinated people are less likely to get infected when exposed to the virus and it greatly helps people by preventing serious health problems leading to hospitalisations or deaths if the virus does infect them.

“I beg our compatriots to continue to do whatever it takes to contain this disease and prevent our country from reversing course and heading straight back to lockdowns.

“This year, our people can enjoy dancing again. Yes, you can dance whenever you’d like – but don’t forget to protect yourselves with the three dos and three don’ts guidelines,” he said.

Hun Sen continued that during the New Year holiday, many people had travelled across the country, which would provide another test for Cambodia to see if Covid-19 was going to have a resurgence.

“According to the figures from yesterday [January 2], we still have 148 people in intensive care units in our hospitals. This figure is small compared to other countries and if we compare it to recent months when many hundreds or thousands of people were being treated in the ICU’s,” Hun Sen said.

Vandine called on people who missed their first shots and those who have reached the point where it is time to get their second or third doses to get vaccinated at any of the available sites.

“Health departments and local authorities across the country have set up vaccination sites for our people at many locations. Please, every eligible individual come and get vaccinated to prevent the spread of the virus and to increase our antibody counts, especially now that we are fighting the Omicron variant,” she said in an audio message.

Vandine also called on people with chronic diseases, breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women to get vaccinated because the vaccines would not have any adverse health impacts on them and they are actually one of the groups that need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 the most.

“I hope that our people will come to get vaccinated at state hospitals, including provincial referral hospitals and health centres across the country,” she said.

As of January 2, more than three million people have received booster shots.

Overall, 89.14 per cent of the total estimated Cambodian population of 16 million people have now been vaccinated.

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